It’s not such an unlikely combination, jazz and dance music. After all, the kids were into that ‘swing’ thing for a while, right? But when the South African duo known as Goldfish perform their energetic blend of live instruments, house beats, African rhythms and jazzy vocals, the highly danceable result is distinctly more modern than Goodman and Basie.
After performing together as university jazz musicians in Cape Town, David Poole and Dominic Peters were inspired to begin experimenting, mixing electronic tones and beats with their own instruments (Poole plays the soprano saxophone and flute; Peters mainly mans keyboards and electric upright bass). A friend played their tape at a small gathering, which prompted a live performance at a bigger party, and before long they found themselves gigging regularly.
After a chance encounter with nightclub juggernaut Pacha in Ibiza, they inked a record deal, going on to be nominated a record-breaking eight times for the South African Music Awards in 2009, cinching Best Dance Album and Best Producer. Now resident DJs at Pacha’s Ibiza club, the pair have also managed to tour the globe, including regular stops in Dubai – supporting Faithless, ushering in 2012 at Sandance NYE, and most recently celebrating South Africa Freedom Day earlier this year – as well as putting out a handful of albums, the latest of which, Goldfish, has just landed in Dubai stores. Time to catch up…
It started with a lucky break. Poole: ‘We had a gig in a German tour resort. Somehow we had a contact who managed to get us to play for 20 minutes before Pete Tong. It just so happened that the boss of Pacha was there; he saw us, loved it, and said, ‘What are you doing later?’ And I was like: ‘Hmm, let me check our schedule… oh, we’re free.’ So we played a show at the club that night, which went really well, then we signed our first deal with Pacha.’
And they’re going for the ‘granny market’ next. Peters: ‘We’re kind of a gateway between jazz and dance music. A lot of types of people listen to us – it’s bizarre. When we only play in clubs, it’s harder to access other groups of people, like the granny market. I’m stoked to see young kids come to our gigs. At least they’re not listening to something terrible.’
They’re old-school purists at heart. Peters: ‘You have to believe it. Especially for dance music, especially if you’re looping something. Often the best loops are ones that are recorded a bit “off,” but have real energy; it’s got that little spark of incorrectness and that’s actually the thing that gets you. Otherwise, it sounds like tonal Botox.’ Interviewed by Tim Peterson. Goldfish’s eponymous album is out now, available at Virgin Megastores.